A second experimental Ebola vaccine will be used in Congo (DRC) amid the growing epidemic in the African nation, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Monday.
The vaccine, delivered in two doses 56 days apart, will be given to at-risk populations in areas that do not have active Ebola transmission, WHO said.
“The DRC authorities, in deciding to deploy the second experimental vaccine to extend protection against this deadly virus, have once again shown leadership and their determination to end this outbreak as soon as possible,” said WHO's director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The move comes after Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), a medical charity, said WHO’s system of “tight controls on supply and eligibility criteria” was restricting too many people at risk of Ebola from being vaccinated, according to Reuters.
“Time is of essence in an outbreak: medical teams should be able to rapidly provide treatments or vaccines based on what they see on the ground,” MSF emergency coordinator Natalie Roberts said in a statement, according to the news service.
WHO denies it’s limiting access to vaccines, telling Reuters it partners “closely” with Congo to “reach as many communities and individuals in the outbreak area as possible.”
WHO said in the new vaccine, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, will complement the current one, manufactured by Merck, which has proven “highly effective and safe.”
WHO said there are enough vaccine doses on the ground to meet current needs.
To date, WHO said more than 223,000 people have received the Merck vaccine during the outbreak which was declared in August 2018.
More than 3,030 people have been sickened by Ebola during the outbreak, making it the second worst in history, and more than 1,990 have died, according to The Associated Press.